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Zaxxon is a space combat shooter where you play a lone fighter pilot battling through a heavily armed space station in an attempt to destroy the evil sentient super robot named Zaxxon. Along the way, you must engage enemy planes, avoid fire from ground turrets and destroy communications equipment and fuel repositories.
The game features a three-dimensional perspective on a tilted background. Instead of flying side to side, players appear to be flying diagonally from the bottom left of the screen to the top right. Because the game is 3D, players climb and descend as well as bank left and right. To help keep perspectives accurate, the plane's shadow is always visible on the ground below.
Enemy planes emerge from the top of the screen and fire missiles at the player's plane. Players must return fire to destroy the enemy plane and maneuver to avoid his fire. The number of enemy planes remaining on a certain level is shown in the bottom right corner of the game screen.
In addition to fighting off enemy planes, players must also destroy turrets on the ground, communications satellites and fuel repositories. Destroying these items adds points to the overall score while destroying fuel tanks adds fuel to the player's plane; fuel is kept track of by a meter displayed along the bottom of the game screen.
In the final battle against the Zaxxon robot, the player's plane remains stationary while it fires a salvo of missiles and Zaxxon returns fire with arm-launched missiles. Players must avoid his onslaught and hit the robot boss many times before he is destroyed.
Zaxxon for the PC retains the majority of gameplay features of the Arcade version but sets them in a CGA graphics environment. The two primary differences between PC and Arcade are the level designs and ship movements. Although the PC version uses the same types of obstacles and enemies, it arranges them in a different order and tends to have less enemies per level. Also, in the PC version, the player's ship moves in discrete steps rather than in fluid motions. Pushing the direction button once will move the ship only one full step in that direction. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide